Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Mitzvah 52 -Who’s ox got gored?

Posted by rabbiart on August 21, 2008

A study of the traditional 613 mitzvot (commandments/obligations) according to their order of appearance in the Torah.

OK. So I went with a title that it eye-catchy.  This mitzvah is actually that we should not eat any ox that gored another animal (for more than the first time) and was sentenced to death.  Once we have learned that this mitzvah applies to any animal that intentionally injures another animal. Even if the offending animal is a kosher animal, and even if the animal were to be correctly ritually slaughtered, we should not eat of it.

We might think that – since the animal must be killed anyway – why not at least put its meat to some human benefit? But this reduces the severity of the penalty, and lightens – in our eyes – the severity of what the animal has done (and what we in our thoughtlessness of maintaining the animal are also responsible for). So we are told not to eat of the animal so that “it will influence us to be so very careful in all our deeds that no disaster or misfortune should ever issue from our behavior”.

Does this apply in our time and place?  Should it?  We don’t have oxen, but we’ve probably all had neighbors with dangerous dogs.  In our own congregation we have had dogs attacked by other dogs. The problem of dangerous animals is with us even in our modern, urbanized society.  And once again… we find the Torah has something to tell us that is right on point with our lives.


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